'I hardly ever cook' says MasterChef semi-finalist who blagged his way through


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The Independent Culture

A solicitor who has reached the final stages of this year's MasterChef has confessed that he rarely cooked before joining the fiercely competitive BBC One show.

Larkin Cen, 28, has made the semi-final alongside recruitment consultant Dale Williams, 28, finance worker and DJ Natalie Coleman, 29, and housewife Saira Hamilton, 38.

All four will be whittled down to a final three on Friday night.

The Cardiff-born solicitor told the Radio Times that his success on the culinary show came despite the fact that "I hardly ever cook.

"I find it difficult to fit in around work. I've surprised a lot of my friends and family because they've never seen me behind a stove," he said.

The contestant, whose parents have a Chinese takeaway, said: "I was always interested, though: I remember watching my mum chopping away, soaking it all up.

"I daydream all the time about food and dishes I'd like to do, but my ideas rarely make it onto a plate. I have a good palate, what I didn't have is experience or techniques.

"Before I applied for MasterChef, I'd never made a dessert in my life. So I've had to teach myself a lot along the way."

Meanwhile, fellow contestant Williams said that he was not aiming for a job as a chef.

"I'd like to get into food production or the restaurant trade. I've a lot of respect and admiration for chefs but it's never been a desire of mine; I couldn't do what those guys do and work 15 hours a day in a kitchen," he said.

Coleman said that she was "addicted to cookery programmes", admitting that on "some weekends I'd watch them from the minute I woke until I went to bed", while Hamilton said she was "sad that so many people lack confidence in the kitchen".

MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace told the magazine that some of the early winners would not have done so well on the more recent series because standards have improved so much.

"All respect to people like Thomasina Miers, our first winner, but I don't think she'd win MasterChef nowadays," he said.

"The knowledge and skill of the contestants is rising, year after year."